Friday, September 19, 2014

The State of Mexican Food

Over the weekend, a recent arrival to Utah asked all BBQ guests in attendance “Where can I find real, authentic Mexican food in Salt Lake City?” In a flurry came suggestions from mom-and-pop locations to slick joints that dot the entire valley. I merely asked, “Where are you from?” “Colorado!” “So you’re looking for Colorado-Mex then?” “No, just authentic Mexican!”

Umm, authentic? Traveling Mexico teaches us that much like France or Italy all food is regional. So there can be no one authentic expression of a nation’s food, ever. No matter how hard we try to make a cliché out of a stereotype, you’ll not eat authentic. Yes it’s true that spaghetti, Quiche Lorraine and spring rolls are good starting points. But eating a cliché is not going to get you closer to what a cuisine is all about. Four thousand years of Chinese culinary history represented by day-glow Sweet & Sour Chicken is a disappointment. The Greeks, who taught the Mediterranean how to cook, really do offer much more than a Gyro (yeero). And Japan’s kitchen is undoubtedly more than a California Roll, etc.

Ponder Tex-Mex border fusion, then New Mexico’s mix of Spain, Mexico and indigenous sensibilities and then quickly skip to light, calorie conscience Cali-Mex. From the United States of Mexico to the USA, every plate is transformed into what the customer is willing to buy and happily consume. The story of a local Mexican restaurateur comes to mind who sold two plates to-go. In the parking lot, the customers opened the containers and came storming back to complain about disgusting fat lumps which turned out to be beautifully cooked plantain to pair with pork. One culture to the next, all foods must be translated or at least explained. Perhaps the above fiasco is an example of being all too authentic?


Continuing with the inquiry I asked, “What’s your favorite Mexican food?” “A Smothered Burrito! In Durango they do them the best!” “Man, have I got a restaurant for you! La Frontera is the bomb and they've several locations!” My brother, Joe Huerta, added his new funky fave is Chunga’s 180 S.900 West. Other’s felt free to share, too; Red Iguana! Tres Hombres on Highland Drive, taco carts downtown! Taco Time! TACO TIME? Came a reaction of genuine surprise.  “Ah, those crispy-fried bean burritos are killer!”

Lesson here is that if you enjoy it, it’s well worth sitting down and enjoying it to the fullest. No matter the version or from what state in the U.S. or Mexico it hails. One point of caution; Best to carry your own hot sauce cuz’ anything that you can squeeze out of a fast-food packet is not salsa! Asi es, amigos mios!



Copyright © Mick Huerta 2014. All Rights Reserved. 
mickhuerta@gmail.com
All Accordin' - Travel, Culture, Food, Wine!

Photo credits -
Achiote paste ingredients: Paul Goyette - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgoyette/101147378/

"Tortas Oaxaquenas" by nsaum75 / Wikimedia Commons
GrilledChickenZaachila: AlejandroLinaresGarcia

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fricot! An Acadian Tradition with Dumplings! - Belliveau Cove Farmer’s Market





"Go to Belliveau Cove Farmer’s Market", the local fisherman advised in English flavored with French. "Go get Connie’s Traditional Acadian Fricot" (pronounced free-coh).

What's Fricot? Amongst Acadians (the French) of Nova Scotia this thick chicken soup/stew with dumplings is a point of pride and one of the signature dishes of their community. And no better than when made by Connie Theriault at the Belliveau Cove Farmer’s Market every Saturday, all summer long.

Connie shared that the secret really is in the dumplings. They are translucent and an integral part of the flavor and texture. She confidently offers a sample cup to first-timers and the curious with good reason. One taste and you're hooked. The Fricot was far beyond expectations. Thick, luscious in the mouth and smooth on the palate. But it was the dumpling surprise that made the experience truly unique. We finished one portion and got another to go. Connie and her sister Simone, serving and smiling all the way. Incredible! It was my first time on the scenic Evangeline Trail in Western Nova Scotia but the culture, the people and the Fricot will forever stand out in my mind!

Belliveau Cove Farmer’s Market is festooned with displays of jewelry, paintings, carvings, local photography, arts and crafts, basket weaving and stacks of gift ideas. Purchase locally grown organic produce, venison, or organic breads. Treat yourself to freshly baked sweets, jams & jellies... it's all so wonderful facing the Bay of Fundy but as the old Frenchman said, "Go to Belliveau Cove Farmer’s Market, go get Connie’s Traditional Acadian Fricot!"

Copyright © Mick Huerta 2014. All Rights Reserved.
mickhuerta@gmail.com
All Accordin' - Travel, Culture, Food, Wine!


Benny's Famous Fried Clams - Portland Maine


 Yes, it's funky as a Clam Shack in Maine! And the locals like it like that! They're near the port but the prices are no where near what you'll pay at the tourist joints on the wharf. But to each their own. Some prefer cloth napkins and fancy flatware. So be it!

At Benny's you'll find native Mainers cooking it their way. And their way is a delicious no-fuss method of coaxing flavors out of local foods. If paper napkins and plastic forks don't twist your panties in a knot, Benny's is for you. The Lobster PERFECT! The famous fried clams superb and the fries, we asked up front for crispy, and got it. On a whim we'd ordered crab cakes. So good we ordered more! Being we had a case of wine in the trunk and Benny's has a BYOB license, we opened a few favorite bottles to augment the meal. No corkage fee and the waitress offered us glasses with a smile. Outdoor seating did not thwart the service and we found eating Maine's Classic Plates al fresco part of the picnicy charm.

Benny's? Well, we'll be back upon our return from the Maritime Provinces of Canada!

Benny's Famous Fried Clams
199 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101
Tel - 207.774.2084

Copyright © Mick Huerta 2014. All Rights Reserved. 
mickhuerta@gmail.com
All Accordin' - Travel, Culture, Food, Wine!



Benny's on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bite an Opponent? Out!


In the age of AIDS, Uruguay's Luis Suarez has been slapped with the longest ban ever imposed at a World Cup as FIFA punished one of the world's most talented yet controversial footballers for biting an opponent. And really it is not long enough! If you're an idiot, stay home! Que bella Uruguay! Que tonto Suarez!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Spaceman over the Andes - HotList South America!

Packing my bags in preparation to leave Bolivia, traveling by land over the Andes through the Atacama desert (driest place on earth) ... en route to the Nazca Lines (second time there) to shoot the Spaceman, Hummingbird, Monkey, etc. from the windows of a tiny Cessna airplane (all turbulence be damned). The resulting fotos will complete "HotList South America" which soon will be available at Amazon.com... HotList! Go and Know the Best!

  

Copyright © Mick Huerta 2014. All Rights Reserved. 
mickhuerta@gmail.com
All Accordin' - Travel, Culture, Food, Wine!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

HotList! South America! Go and Know the Best!


First SALSA! Now HotList?

I've been asked, "How is it possible to have written two books in one year?" The answer is quite simple. As subject matter, both books contain aspects of South American life. And since I've traveled the continent for twenty years photographing the marvels and scribbling impressions all along the way, there's been ample material to draw upon... the inspiration of travel diaries makes it possible.

Then I should add that our literary team is stupendous! Editor Alix Shand is a bit of a language prodigy and has unerring focus. Designer Rocio Laura has been involved with some of the most impressive works published in this part of the world. And she's deigned to work with me. Gratefully, these two experts have harnessed my energy, profusion of words and oft times wayward ways. Tech support Marco Antonio makes the uploads easy. Otherwise, I'd be flummoxed and frustrated. Really publishing has been a long time coming yet the teamwork makes it all so very immediate and accesible. Realistically, future titles will take more time but they are forthcoming. Look for "SnowBlind in the Andes" (Sacred Leaf to Cocaine Tourism) and followed soon thereafter by another travelogue/cookbook: "Down East" (Boston to St. John's).

So this is answer to the above question, acknowledgement of great talent and an expression of appreciation all in one... mil gracias a todos!

Copyright © Mick Huerta 2014. All Rights Reserved. 
mickhuerta@gmail.com
All Accordin' - Travel, Culture, Food, Wine!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chupe de Mani! - An Essential Flavor of Ecuador

Chupe de Mani! A puréed peanut soup that is incredible! In the mix are peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, red bell pepper and a hint of heat! The topper is a chop of toasted peanuts and a touch of cilantro. The question is, "If you were to go to Ecuador and didn't try it, were you ever really in Ecuador?" 

To avoid missing the best when traveling the Latin World get "HotList South America" which emphasizes sites, culture, food and drink that define essence of place! In the writing stages presently but will soon be available - HotList; an essential addendum to your travel guide of choice. 


 Now available - "Salsa!The Sauces of South America." Just $3.99 at Amazon.com!

Photo credit: Mick Huerta
Cover design: Rocio Laura

Copyright © Mick Huerta 2014. All Rights Reserved. 
mickhuerta@gmail.com
All Accordin' - Travel, Culture, Food, Wine!